British Rail Class 442
The British Rail Class 442 Wessex Electrics (widely known as the Plastic Pigs) are a class of electric multiple-units introduced in 1988 by Network SouthEast on the South Western Main Line from London Waterloo to Weymouth to coincide with the electrification of the line from Bournemouth. Twenty-four five-car units were built by British Rail Engineering Limited's Derby Litchurch Lane Works.
|British Rail Class 442 Wessex Electrics|
442414 and 442406 pass Basingstoke
The interior of South Western Railway refurbished Standard Class accommodation
|In service||1988 – 2017|
2019 – present
|Manufacturer||British Rail Engineering Limited|
|Built at||Derby Litchurch Lane Works|
|Family name||Mark 3-derived|
|Refurbishment||2008 - 2009 (Southern)|
2017 - 2018 (SWR)
|Number built||120 carriages (24 sets)|
|Number in service||18|
|Formation||5 cars per trainset:|
DTSO (A)-TSO-MBC-TSOW-DTSO (B)
|Capacity||SWR: 304 standard, 32 first|
GatEx: 322 standard, 24 first
SWT: 266 standard, 50 first
|Operator(s)||South Western Railway|
|Car body construction||Steel|
|Width||2.74 m (8 ft 11 7⁄8 in)|
|Height||3.81 m (12 ft 6 in)|
|Floor height||1.04 m (40.94 in)|
|Doors||Single leaf sliding plug|
|Wheelbase||16 m (52 ft 6 in) (bogie centres)|
|Maximum speed||100 mph (160 km/h)|
|Traction motors||Four EE546|
|Power output||4 × 300 kW (402.31 hp)|
Total: 1,200 kW (1,610 hp)
|Train heating||Electric, full air conditioning|
|Electric system(s)||750 V DC third rail|
|Current collection method||Contact shoe|
|Braking system(s)||Air (EP/Auto)|
|Multiple working||Within type and Class 33/1 and 73/1 locos|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
Following the privatisation of British Rail, the fleet was sold to Angel Trains and operated by South West Trains up until February 2007, when they were replaced by Class 444 and Class 450s. After a period in storage, they were leased to Southern for use on Gatwick Express services from Brighton to Gatwick Airport and London Victoria. The units were withdrawn in 2016 from Gatwick Express services and in March 2017 from peak-time Southern services (Brighton to London Bridge and Eastbourne to London Bridge).
Eighteen of these units were planned to be introduced on London Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour services by South Western Railway in December 2018. However, all 18 units are being refurbished before use on this service. Due to overrunning with refurbishment and staff training, these units were rescheduled to commence operations with South Western Railway in early 2019. Delays led to the first services of refurbished units due to begin in May 2019, however problems with the door locks saw the units temporarily removed from service again until June 2019 for the fault to be rectified. In September 2019 some services were cancelled on the South West Mainline route owing to fears that trackside signals were being incorrectly set after SWR Class 442 units had passed them. There is no estimate of when the services will be reinstated.
South Western Railway has awarded Kiepe Electric UK the contract to undertake the £45m refurbishment. Work will include replacing the life-expired DC traction equipment with an AC package incorporating IGBT technology from Kiepe Electric Düsseldorf. New brake controls from Knorr-Bremse Rail Vehicle Systems will permit regenerative braking.
The Class 442 is based on the British Rail Mark 3 carriage bodyshell, and has a number of features which distinguish it from the slam-door units it replaced:
- Vehicle length is 23 m (75 ft), as opposed to 20 m (66 ft).
- All vehicles are air-conditioned, and have powered internal doors and external plug doors.
- Units consist of five vehicles, and operate as 5 or 10-car trains, replacing 4-car units which operated as 4, 8 or 12-car trains.
- Maximum permitted speed is 100 mph (160 km/h).
As was common on the British Rail Southern Region, many electrical components – including traction motors and electrical control gear – were salvaged from the Class 432 units they replaced. For this reason, the older 4REP and 4TC units had to be withdrawn before their replacements were built.
The 442 units are unique among all of the various Mark 3 based multiple unit classes in that they use the full-length 23 metre version of the Mark 3 bodyshell with sealed, non-opening windows - hence they have a very close resemblance to the coaching stock used in both HST sets and loco-hauled expresses.
The Class 442 was one of the first types to make extensive use of plastics in construction and earned the nickname among staff and rail enthusiasts of "Pigs" or "Piggies". When they were first introduced the units were plagued by minor technical failures, but they have subsequently become among the most reliable EMUs operating in the UK.
The first unit was handed over to Network SouthEast on 18 December 1987. The units were initially used solely on the Weymouth line, but through the 1990s began to be used on the London Waterloo to Portsmouth direct line. The increased top speed of the Class 442, combined with timetable changes, resulted in some minor journey time improvements, for example a non-stop service reaching Southampton Airport Parkway from London Waterloo in 58 minutes, over a journey of around 74 miles (119 km).
South West TrainsEdit
As part of the privatisation of British Rail, the 442 class were sold to Angel Trains and leased to South West Trains. Unit 442402 soon had an orange stripe added to its Network SouthEast livery, which looked very similar to Stagecoach's corporate image. From 1998, the units began to receive the new South West Trains livery of white, red and blue as they underwent overhaul at Crewe Works. Unit 442404 was the first to be so treated.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the fleet continued to operate express services from London to both Weymouth and Portsmouth. However, in 2004, when the Class 444s entered service, the 442s were again used solely on the Weymouth line. In early 2006, the fleet began to receive overhauls, with units emerging in a slightly revised livery which conformed with the Disability Discrimination Act. By January 2007 14 of the 24 units had received overhauls.
The last Class 442 Weymouth to London Waterloo operation was on 24 January 2007 with the final service on 3 February 2007. The units were moved from Bournemouth Traincare Depot to Eastleigh Works for warm storage.
Southern leased 17 to operate the extended Gatwick Express service which began in December 2008. Originally. some units were kept out of service for spare parts. In October 2008. unit 442414 became the first unit to be fully refurbished inside and out.
The new extended Gatwick Express service was introduced on 15 December 2008. The new service, operating Monday to Friday, comprised six services in the morning from Brighton and six services to Brighton in the evening with an additional service terminating at Haywards Heath.
In addition. some peak-hour services to/from London Bridge to Brighton and Eastbourne were operated by pairs of Class 442s. In April 2009. Southern took an extra two units from Eastleigh Works to make up for the shortfall in units caused by their use on other services.
When Govia retained the Southern franchise, it was announced that the remaining off-lease 442s would return to service after an overhaul to replace Class 460s. In 2012. the branding on the units was modified to read simply 'Express' rather than 'Gatwick Express' to avoid passenger confusion when used on fast Brighton Main Line services that do not call at Gatwick.
Govia ordered 108 Class 387/2 carriages for the Brighton and Gatwick Express routes. The 387s began to enter service on 29 February 2016, with the Class 442s phased out by the end of 2016, with the exception of the Brighton and Eastbourne peak-time commuter services, which continued to be operated by a pair of 442s until March 2017.
The last passenger service was on 10 March 2017 which was the 17:57 London Bridge to Brighton formed of units 442410 and 442413. A railtour ran on 12 March 2017 by units 442402 and 442408 commemorate the final send off to entire fleet from services on the Brighton Main Line. All were taken to Ely for storage.
South Western RailwayEdit
In March 2017, South Western Railway was awarded the South Western franchise, announcing plans to refurbish and enter 18 Class 442s into service for use on London Waterloo to Portsmouth services. The first refurbished units entered service in June 2019 but some services were withdrawn in September 2019 over fears of issues with trackside signalling being incorrectly set after the rolling stock passed them.
In November 2016, Alliance Rail Holdings announced plans to use the 442s on a new intercity express service which would operate on the South West Main Line between London Waterloo and Southampton Central under the Grand Southern brand. The proposal was rejected by the Office of Rail & Road on the 1 August 2018. The services would have operated as intercity services with each 5 car train offering around 300 seats.
In 2016 a driving car was nominated for preservation by the Railway Heritage Designation Advisory Board. This will see one preserved after it is retired.
Accidents and IncidentsEdit
- On 3 September 1989, unit 2407 ran away at Bournemouth Depot and overran buffers.
- On 7 August 2016, a passenger travelling on 442411 was fatally injured when his head struck signal gantry near Balham, south London. He had been leaning out of the window opposite the guard's compartment in the central carriage. This window could not be locked and there was no bar in place to prevent passengers from leaning out of it. 
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Units are numbered 442401–424 and are formed of two outer driving trailers, two intermediate trailers, and an intermediate motor vehicle. In accordance with Southern Region practice, the units only carried the last four digits of their unit numbers when in service with South West Trains. Units refurbished for Southern now carry the full six digits.
Individual vehicles are numbered as follows:
- 77382–77405 - DTS - Driving Trailer Standard (formerly DTFo (Driving Trailer First Semi-open) )
- 71818–71841 - TSO - Trailer Standard Open
- 62937–62960 - MLC - Motor Luggage Composite (formerly MBLS (Motor Buffet Lounge Standard) )
- 71842–71865 - TSW - Trailer Standard Wheelchair
- 77406–77429 - DTS - Driving Trailer Standard
The motor buffet vehicles were all modernised in a works programme at Crewe Works in 1997/98. At the same time units were repainted from their original Network SouthEast livery into South West Trains livery. During 2006 Angel Trains sent some units to Bombardier at Ilford, where the livery was modified to make it Disability Discrimination Act compliant; however, not all trains were modified as it was later announced that the trains were to be withdrawn from service. In 2008, units started to go to Wolverton works for refurbishment. The refurbishment included the removal of the buffet from the motor coach, all new seats, and the removal of first class from the front of the train to the motor coach. The description of this formation is DTS+TSO+MLC+TSW+DTS.
During the years of Network SouthEast and South West Trains, various units have received names. Most of these were towns or places along the routes that they worked, but a few were for publicity purposes. When the South West Trains lease expired all nameplates were removed.
The complete fleet list is shown below, with details of vehicle numbers, former names and livery.
|Unit number||Former name
(Removed after the South
West Trains lease expired)
|Livery||Individual coach numbers||Date withdrawn
|Date back in service
|442401||Beaulieu||Gatwick Express||77382||71818||62937||71842||77406||22 January 2007||7 May 2016||Stored pending re-entry to service||Stored|
|442402||County of Hampshire||Gatwick Express||77383||71819||62938||71843||77407||16 February 2007||13 March 2017||-||-|
|442403||The New Forest||South Western Railway||77384||71820||62941||71844||77408||17 January 2007||?||2 September 2019||24 June 2019||In service|
|442404||Borough of Woking||South Western Railway||77385||71821||62939||71845||77409||15 January 2007||24 May 2016||2 September 2019||-||In service|
|442405||City of Portsmouth||Gatwick Express||77386||71822||62944||71846||77410||15 February 2007||?||Stored pending re-entry to service||Stored|
|442406||Victory||South Western Railway||77389||71823||62942||71847||77411||15 January 2007||?||2 September 2019||29 July 2019||In service|
|442407||Thomas Hardy||Gatwick Express||77388||71824||62943||71848||77412||22 January 2007||?||Stored pending re-entry to service||Stored|
|442408||County of Dorset||South Western Railway||77387||71825||62945||71849||77413||17 January 2007||13 March 2017||2 September 2019||24 June 2019||In service|
|442409||Bournemouth Orchestras||Gatwick Express||77390||71826||62946||71850||77414||12 January 2007||7 May 2016||-||-||-|
|442410||Meridian Tonight||South Western Railway||77391||71827||62948||71851||77415||24 January 2007||11 March 2017||2 September 2019||10 June 2019||In service|
|442411||The Railway Children||South Western Railway||77392||71828||62940||71858||77422||29 January 2007||?||2 September 2019||-||In service|
|442412||Special Olympics||Gatwick Express||77393||71829||62947||71853||77417||12 February 2007||?||Stored pending re-entry to service||Stored|
|442413||South Western Railway||77394||71830||62949||71854||77418[nb 1]||2 February 2007||11 March 2017||2 September 2019||19 August 2019||In service|
|442414||South Western Railway||77395||71831||62950||71855||77419||24 January 2007||?||2 September 2019||-||In service|
|442415||Mary Rose||Gatwick Express||77396||71832||62951||71856||77420||10 November 2006||5 July 2016||-||-|
|442416||Mum in a Million 1997 - Doreen Scanlon||Gatwick Express||77397||71833||62952||71857||77421||31 December 2006||?||-||-||-|
|442417||Woking Homes||South Western Railway||77398||71834||62953||71852||77416||19 January 2007||?||2 September 2019||19 August 2019||In service|
|442418||Wessex Cancer Trust||Gatwick Express||77399||71835||62954||71859||77423||24 January 2007||20 May 2016||-||-|
|442419||BBC South Today[nb 2]||South Western Railway||77400||71836||62955||71860||77424||12 February 2007||?||2 September 2019||-||In service|
|442420||City of Southampton||South Western Railway||77401||71837||62956||71861||77425||12 January 2007||?||2 September 2019||10 June 2019||In service|
|442421||Gatwick Express||77402||71838||62957||71862||77426||26 January 2007||?||Stored pending re-entry to service||Stored|
|442422||Operation Overlord||South Western Railway||77403||71839||62958||71863||77427||11 January 2007||8 April 2016||2 September 2019||-||In service|
|442423||County of Surrey||South Western Railway||77404||71840||62959||71864||77428||18 April 2007||7 July 2016||2 September 2019||-||In service|
|442424||Gerry Newson||Gatwick Express||77405||71841||62960||71865||77429||22 January 2007||20 May 2016||Stored pending re-entry to service||Stored|
- For a short while the DTS vehicles from units 442413 and 442418 were swapped following problems with these units. The DTS from 442413 had a broken windscreen, and the motor coach in 442418 had suffered a failure. A complete working unit, numbered 442413, was thus created. The four coaches from the original 442413 carried the new livery, having just undergone overhaul, while the DTS (still numbered 2418) carried the old livery.
- De-named by Sally Taylor (BBC South Today Presenter) on 9 January 2007
- Marsden 2011, p. 240
- Fox 1994, pp. 49–50
- "Vehicle Diagram Book No.210 for Electrical Multiple Units (including A.P.T.)" (PDF). Barrowmore MRG. BRB Residuary Ltd. ED265, EE160, EE273, EH288, EH289. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
- "Class 442". The Railway Centre. Archived from the original on 14 October 2007. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
- "SWR refurbished trains launch delayed over door safety". Retrieved 16 May 2019.
- "SWR refurbished trains running after safety concerns delay". Retrieved 10 June 2019.
- "Refurbished South Western Railway trains withdrawn". Retrieved 2 September 2019.
- UK, DVV Media. "South Western Railway awards Class 442 refurbishment contract". Railway Gazette. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
- "Third_rail". uktra.in. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
- Hentis-rail - Tribute to the Wessex Electrics Archived 27 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- "Network rolls out Wessex Electrics" Railway Gazette International page 113
- "First Wessex Electric handed-over" The Railway Magazine issue 1043 March 1988 page 143
- "Network's flagship: The Class 442 (Wessex Electric) EMUs" Rail Magazine issue 89 February 1989 pages 26-33
- Angel Trains Class 442 Department for Transport
- "First new-look 'Wessex Electric' completed by Adtranz] Rail Magazine issue 328 8 April 1998 page 12
- "Class 442s bow out with SWT" Today's Railways issue 64 April 2007 page 66
- "More trains arriving on busy rail routes" (Press release). Department for Transport. 4 April 2007. Archived from the original on 5 July 2007.
Extra carriages for the service will be provided by Southern probably leasing some of the class 442 fleet which is currently not in use.
- "Southern confirms plans to refresh Class 442 EMUs" Rail Magazine issue 575 26 September 2007 page 70
- "Class 442s receive an extensive internal refit before joining Gatwick Express" Rail Magazine issue 606 3 December 2008 page 14
- "Gatwick service benefits Brighton" BBC News 14 December 2008
- "New rail franchising deal set to transform passenger services across London and south east" (Press release). Department for Transport (DfT). 23 May 2014. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
- "Late-February debut for Gatwick Express Class 387/2s".
- "Southern to retain six 442s" Today's Railways issue 171 March 2016 page 69
- "First GatEx 442 sent off lease" Rail Magazine issue 798 13 April 2016 page 30
- "The final 442 scheduled service". SEG. 10 March 2017. Archived from the original on 13 March 2017. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
- "Society Tours, Trips and Visits". Branch Line society. 12 March 2017. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
- "Nine GTR Class 442s now removed from traffic" Rail Magazine issue 804 6 July 2016 page 31
- "Statement re South Western rail franchise award". First. 27 March 2017.
- First.MTR joint venture wins South Western franchise Railway Gazette International 27 March 2017
- "TransPennine Express Invitation to Tender Clause 220.127.116.11 iv" (PDF). Department for Transport. 27 February 2015. p. 93.
- "FirstGroup awarded TransPennine Express franchise". Rail Technology Magazine. 9 December 2015. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
- Southampton - London open access proposal rejected Railway Gazette International 1 August 2018
- "Competition proposed on Southampton – London rail services from December 2017". Alliance Rail Holdings. 8 November 2016. Archived from the original on 17 November 2016.
- "Class 442 car claimed for National Collection" Rail Express issue 238 March 2016 page 75
- McCrickard, John P (6 October 2016). "January 1989 to December 1989". Network South East Railway Society. Archived from the original on 26 June 2018. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
- Class 442 Units Into Store - Southern Electric Group. Retrieved 2016-08-13 Archived 2 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine